The Eighth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31, 2018



Lisa Emond
Oregon, USA


My name is Lisa Emond, and I am from Oregon, USA. I've been making costumes for Renaissance Faires, SCA, and Regency historical re-creation for about 30 years. I have only made one outfit I would call Italian Renaissance, and that was about 25 years ago when I was just starting out. It was not very historically accurate! My plan is to do an outfit based on Portrait of a Lady by Titian from 1555. I am in love with this Venetian "Turkish coat".

The first layer will be the camicia as shown in the picture. The second layer is an underskirt. This isn't shown in the portrait, but I feel that since the coat would fall open at the bottom most likely some skirt was worn under it.The third layer is the turkish coat. The fourth layer will include either a necklace and earrings or a hat.I have included images for my inspiration painting as well as my own photo. I'm excited to be participating in this challenge as I have been following your showcases for over 6 years!


The Completed Outfit


Layer 1: Camicia

The camicia is a linen/cotton mix fabric. It is completely handsewn. The drawstring was a handmade linen lucet cord. The lace is purchased cotton lace which was hand dyed for the outfit.

Layer 2: Under-Skirt

The under-skirt is a copper brown silk taffeta. All the seams and hems are hand finished in silk thread, and the hem was stiffened with wool padding and tucks, also done by hand. The closure is a period hook and eye (purchased).

Layer 3: Turkish Coat

The Turkish coat is a bright turquoise silk taffeta, and is lined with a sea green cotton with gold medallions printed on it. It was assembled by machine, but is hand finished at facings and hems. The front and sleeves are hand beaded with gold findings with red beads and glass pearls.

Layer 4, Accessories: Handkerchief, Necklace and Earrings, Flag Fan.

The necklace and earrings were hand made from gold tone filigree beads and lapis beads. The pendant was taken from another necklace and added. The pendant was originally silver, but was made gold with a coat of Rub n' Buff in Gold Leaf.

The flag fan was made from stiffened paper with a painted plastic handle. Gold lace was applied around the outside edges of the fan and it was attached with gilded leather straps.

The handkerchief was completely hand sewn with gold lace hand sewn to the outside edges.

I'm thrilled with how this came out, and how much it evokes the original portrait. Much credit goes to my best friend Thea, who took all the pictures and made my beautiful hairstyle come together so well!




First Update


I started first with the camicia. It's based on the construction information on the Realm of Venus site. It's a linen cotton mix, chosen because it was easily available and on sale, that's handkerchief weight. It's completely hand sewn with linen thread. Here you can see the inset gusset.

The gussets were edge finished and the seams sewn by whipstitching, which is a technique I found mentioned as being used for some Elizabethan garments. As the portrait I am using as an inspiration is from 1550, it seemed appropriate to the period.

The longer seams were sewn with flat felled seams, also handsewn.

I hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a whipstitch.

I decided to use a lucet to make a drawstring for the neck. Although drawstrings aren't clearly documented in period, some portraits do show strings closing the camicia in the front. I wanted to be able to adjust the neckline a bit. The portrait does not show any clear band or ruffle.

I haven't finished the neck yet, but here's a picture showing the sleeve and gusset so far.

I plan to use a simple gathered neck with a plain band and the drawstring threaded through. I also need to dye the lace for the sleeves and attach that.

Second Update

I started out the month by dyeing the lace for the sleeves of my camicia. The portrait shows a very delicate gold lace, but I was not able to find anything similar in gold. I did find a good white lace that looked pretty close, and decided to dye it myself. I have had good luck with tea dyeing, so I thought I would give it a try with this lace. I took 20 tea bags (Tetley's) and a gallon of boiling water. I added a bit of gold Rit dye to bring out the yellow. It came out the perfect color!

After dyeing the lace, I finished the neckband of the camicia. I gathered the neck and hand sewed it to the band. Then I folded it over into a casing and threaded the lucet cord I made through the casing. I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom, and whipstitched the lace to the sleeves.

During the search for lace for the sleeves, I came across some beautiful gold Venetian lace in my stash. Since it was a small piece, it seemed perfect for a handkerchief. I hand hemmed some of the leftover linen from the camicia, and attached the lace. I found several portraits showing handkerchiefs with showy gold lace to support the addition.

Still have a long way to go!


Third Update


My daughter's graduation made things a bit challenging this month, but I was able to get the under-skirt finished. It's made of a copper brown silk taffeta. All visible stitches are hand sewn. I decided to do a stiffened hem to give it more body, as well as two tucks. The hem is turned over a long strip of thick wool fabric which was sewn to the bottom of the hem. Then two tucks were done to give the hem more stiffness.

It really looks beautiful on, and the stiffened hem makes it much easier to walk.

I also was able to finish the necklace for the outfit. The pendant comes from a necklace I inherited from my mother which has lapis in it. Although it looks silver in the photo, it is actually an antiqued gold tone (not actually gold though!). I was able to get some matching lapis beads, and I found these beautiful gold tone filigree beads. The whole thing came together so well!

Next month should be busy, as I have the Turkish coat to finish!

Final Update

(Bella: please note that Lisa has provided me with all the required in-process shots. Due to this being a busy time for me with study and assignments, I have saved time by not using all of them in this update, but will of course be using them for evaluation purposes.)

First, I finished the earrings to go with the necklace. They came out very well, even though I have never made earrings before!

The major project for this last month was the Turkish coat. This was made from a teal blue silk taffeta, with a sea green cotton lining printed with gold medallions. Cotton was a common fabric used to line these caftans at the time, although the lining can't be seen in the portrait.

The outer fabric in the portrait is clearly silk. I chose the taffeta because it has been in my stash for a while waiting for a project, and it seemed perfect for this. I created my pattern myself after looking at several sources, mostly Persian garments. The coat is based on rectangular pieces for
front and back, with inset gores on sides and back. The seams were sewn by machine, but all visible stitching was done by hand.

I sewed the lining and the outer shell separately, then hemmed them together. I then hand beaded and adorned the neckline and sleeves with gold findings with red beads and pearls similar to the decoration in the portrait. The finished coat looks beautiful!

At the last minute I decided to make a flag fan to finish off the outfit. I used a plastic dowel for the handle, painted black and gilded with rub 'n' buff. The fan is paper with gold lace, attached with gilded leather bands.

I can't wait to put everything together for the final photos!